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Not picking KL Rahul for New Zealand Tests is India’s loss and not his: Zaheer

Talking about KL Rahul not being included in India's Test squad against New Zealand, ex-India pacer Zaheer Khan said, "He would've loved to be there to play Tests."

New Zealand avenged their 0-5 loss in the T20I in a remarkable way on Tuesday when they completed a 3-0 sweep of India in the ODI series. The Kiwis won the third and the final match in Mount Maunganui by 5 wickets after India set them a target of 297. The visitors’ bowling failed to click in the series that allowed the home team to score at will and even overhauling as steep a target of 348 which they did in the first match in Hamilton.

India’s high point in the third game remained the century by KL Rahul. The wicketkeeper-batsman came out at No.5 to slam 112 off 113 balls to help India score 296 for 7 in 50 overs after Black Caps captain Kane Williamson won the toss and sent them to bat. Rahul’s 100-run partnership with Shreyas Iyer (62) and a 107-run partnership with Manish Pandey (42) formed the backbone of the Indian innings. It though proved to be inadequate at the end.

Former India spearhead Zaheer Khan backed his own words uttered a few days ago on picking of KL Rahul for the Test series. According to the former left-arm bowler, Rahul’s good batting form puts him in a great state of mind and creates a perfect opportunity for him to regain his lost place in the red-ball format. Rahul has been batting well off late and also clinched the man of the series award in the T20I series. However, he has been overlooked for the two-Test series starting in Wellington in 10 days time.

KL Rahul hasn’t played a Test match since last August-September

Rahul has not played in a Test match since the tour of the West Indies last August-September and missed all the games that India played at home since then. The rise of the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal and the revival of the Test career of Rohit Sharma have made it challenging for the 28-year-old opening batsman to return to the longer format.

However, as the 41-year-old Zaheer said recently, the absence of Rohit who has been ruled out because of a calf injury, made the opportunity even riper for Rahul to return to the Test side. India also picked Shubman Gill for the Test series which leaves the job of picking the batting order really tough.

“There are just two Test matches on the tour and it is a year when the side will be playing predominantly T20s, there are just five Test matches and the way he is going about things it might happen. That’s a point I have been trying to make, Rahul is in a phase where all these things are happening around him so I am sure he is not bothered,” Zaheer told Cricbuzz Live.

“He knows that when I get an opportunity I know how to approach it and I am just gonna focus on things I can control. I know that he would have loved to be there to play the Test matches, he is in such a form that he just wants to be out there and keep scoring runs. And that’s something that has definitely changed with him and it’s the loss of the team and not his loss,” he added.

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